From June 19, Russia is halting all interactions with the US within the framework on the memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday following the US-led coalition’s downing of a Syrian army’s jet near Raqqa.
Russian missile defense will intercept any aircraft in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, the ministry said.
“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.
Downing the military jet within Syrian airspace “cynically” violates the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian military said.
The actions of the US Air Force are in fact “military aggression”against Syria, the statement adds.
The US-led coalition command didn’t use the deconfliction channel with Russia to avoid an incident during an operation in Raqqa, the ministry said.
“Russian Aerospace Forces’ jets were conducting operations in Syrian airspace that time. However, the command of the coalition forces didn’t use the existing channel between the air command of the Qatari airbase al Udeid and the [Russian] Hmeymim airbase to avoid incidents over Syria,” the ministry said.
The United States and Russia signed the bilateral memorandum of understanding in October 2015 to ensure the safety of flights during combat missions over Syria.
On June 18, the Syrian army said that the US-led coalition had brought down its aircraft in southern Raqqa countryside when it was fulfilling its mission against ISIS. The US-led coalition downed the Syrian government warplane on Sunday. At the moment of the attack the jet was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.
The threat may bear little teeth given that the majority of U.S. anti-ISIS operations occur east of the Euphrates river. ISIS’s capital of Raqqa is east of the river and is currently the site of intense U.S. operations in support of its allies’ push on the city.
At the beginning of April, the Defense Ministry said following a US’ Tomahawk cruise missile attack on a Syrian army’s airfield that the Russian air defense combat units in Syria are on duty round-the-clock. The S-400, the S-300 and the Pantsir air defense systems protect the Russian air group at the Hmeymim airfield from the air.